Taking the lead from the results of the latest Business Index, Sage knows that bureaucracy remains a hindrance for the majority of small business owners and that the most burdensome laws were those relating to tax systems.
The action plan announced by the EC on the 7th December will go some way to assuage fears and help topple some of the cumbersome bureaucratic and legislative barriers currently affecting small businesses.
It rightly focuses on all the obstacles facing SMBs in accessing finance, from venture capital to traditional loans, as these are fundamental in supporting business activities such as innovation, growth and start-ups.
However, there is a danger the measures presented by the EC will pay mere lip service to the issues unless they are accompanied by reforms in national tax systems, which currently hinder the uptake and provision of these financial products and services.
Another valuable development is around loan financing currently understood to be the main source of funding for European SMBs. In this respect, the Commission has recently put forward a commendable set of measures to promote access to loans, debt financing and guarantees in the new “Programme for the Competitiveness of Enterprises and SMEs”, part of the “Horizon 2020‟ plan.
On another horizon however lurks a new piece of legislation, Basel III. It’s one of the most important reforms to emerge from the financial crisis which will require banks to effectively triple the size of the capital reserves they must hold against losses; the aim being to make banks more resilient to financial shocks, but also means they have less capital to lend.
Let’s hope these positive developments are not undone by the implementation of this latest piece of regulation as this is the very last thing Europe needs right now.